Ontario reported 391 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 22,313.
A total of 1,858 people have died in Ontario of COVID-19, according to official figures provided by the Ontario health ministry. A total of 975 are in hospital, with 180 of those in intensive care units.
The ministry says 135 people are in ICU on a ventilator. A total of 17,020 people have recovered from the virus.
Data collected by CBC News from local public health units indicates there have been at least 1,939 deaths as of 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The increase in cases represents a 1.8 per cent growth over Friday’s total.
The number of people in hospital has dropped, while the number of people in intensive care and on a ventilator has remained steady.
Toronto calls for testing of shelter residents, staff
Toronto, meanwhile, is asking for increased funding and testing from the provincial government for its homeless shelters.
The Toronto Board of Health says the city has spent $200 million to open new shelter facilities and move homeless people into hotels, and is asking the province to foot part of the bill.
Two shelter clients have died after contracting COVID-19.
“The province needs to ramp up proactive testing in all congregate living sites to protect clients and staff, including shelters, respites and drop-ins,” said Toronto Coun. Joe Cressy.
“We also know that we need to invest in supportive and affordable housing solutions in order to truly tackle chronic homelessness.”
Retail stores with street entrances to open Tuesday
The latest numbers come as golf courses, marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches have opened in Ontario on Saturday as the province begins to ease restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Private parks and campgrounds are allowed to open to enable workers to prepare for the summer season. Trailers and recreational vehicles, where owners have a full season contract, are allowed to access those parks and campgrounds.
As well, businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow their patrons to visit, care for or ride their animals.
On Tuesday, as part of stage one of the province’s reopening plans, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening with physical distancing measures in place.
Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization, will be allowed to restart.
And pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments can begin again.
‘We cannot let our guard down now,’ Ford says
Earlier this week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned “businesses should open only if they’re ready.”
He added the province will be watching the COVID-19 case numbers “like a hawk.”
“We cannot let our guard down now,” he said.
The first stage involves the “gradually restarting” of scheduled surgeries, along with the opening of libraries for pickup and the resumption of property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.
Certain health and medical services will be able to resume as well and these include in-person counselling and in-person services.
Domestic workers, such as housekeepers and cooks, can also resume work on Tuesday, although Ontarians are technically still required to limit contact to those inside their own households.
Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters on Friday that provincial health officials are examining the idea of families “bubbling” or “cohorting” with other households and she said expects to have more to say next week about that issue.
“That’s something we’re studying very closely right now,” she said.
Currently, Ontario’s emergency legislation prohibits social gatherings of more than five people, even if held at a “private dwelling.”
The province’s website states that everyone should practice physical distancing, which “means staying at least two metres away from anyone outside your household.”